Stratford says thank you

During April, our corporate partners the RSC set up the Art Warming Project here at Bell Court; a collection of stories of kindness and generosity within our local community. We wanted to remember the small things that have seen us through a difficult year and create this into a joyful celebration around Stratford town centre.

Working with artist Saadia Hipkiss and local volunteers, the RSC transformed messages of hope and love into beautifully painted rocks and created a Kindness Garden in disused shop windows. You will also find some kindness rocks hidden in 11 shop windows and outside around the town. Messages of kindness were also recorded by the members of the public, called Stratford Says Thank You which you can listen to here.

The Kindness Garden is located next to White Light Gallery on Taskers Way, just off the High Street and will be on display until early June 2021.

Photo by Sam Allard (c) RSC

Plans for new Motto by Hilton Hotel at Bell Court Unveiled

The owner of Bell Court, Blue Coast Capital, is seeking to submit a revised planning application to bring a new Motto by Hilton hotel to the popular leisure and shopping destination in the heart of Stratford upon Avon, creating up to 100 new jobs in the town.

This will be the first Motto outside of London and will create a new 148 bed lifestyle hotel for the town with stylish communal areas offering a dynamic ground floor space.

The new hotel proposal follows on from the planning permission granted last year for a hotel and new residential units at Bell Court, seeking a modest extension to meet the requirements of Hilton for the Motto concept.

The new hotel would be situated on the ground and three upper floors above Bell Court, fronting both High Street and Taskers Way – replacing the vacant Debenhams Department store and also the redundant upper floors of the former H & M store.  The third floor will be set back from the High Street elevation line to ensure the building’s scale complements the existing street scene.

The plans comply with the local council’s policy to retain retail activity at ground floor level and continue the existing High Street feel and design to remain sensitive to the Grade II listed element of the buildings.  It is hoped that the development will act as a catalyst for further regeneration of the immediate area.

John Stacey, UK Real Estate Director for Blue Coast Capital said:

“Having a global brand like Hilton involved in these proposals means we are ready to bring forward a new destination hotel for Stratford that will cater not only for visiting guests but also the local community. This will build upon the success of Bell Court and add another key element for the benefit of the town, its visitors and its people.

“This multi million pound investment from BCCAP and Hilton gives Stratford is a huge vote of confidence in its post Covid recovery. As well as building upon the existing success of Bell Court, it allows current redundant retail space to be utilised and will activate a key part of the town centre. The design pays homage to the town in a respectful way while also providing the modern commercial space required by an international operator.”

Motto, part of the world’s largest premium hotel brand, takes a modern twist on luxury hotel space by providing travellers with one of a kind experiences by bringing together the best elements of a lifestyle brand with great urban locations matched with locally inspired design, food and beverage.

As part of the consultation, the revised plans will be available to view on this website from Monday 19th April through to 10th May 2021, with the ability for the general public and stakeholders to comment on the proposals through a this link to an on-line comment form.

View the Consultation Page >

Following the consultation, Blue Coast Capital will be working towards submitting a planning application to Stratford-on-Avon District Council this summer.

RSC brings kindness to Bell Court with Art Warming Project


As Stratford-upon-Avon slowly begins to reopen in April, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is inviting local people to reconnect with one another via its Art Warming project, inspired by the theme of kindness and creativity.

The RSC is working with West Midlands artist Saadia Hipkiss to create the Kindness Shop, an open space in Bell Court in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon where people can safely take part in free creative activities.

Sponsored by Bell Court, and supported by a grant from Stratford Town Trust, local people are being given the opportunity to help create large, colourful mandalas (large circular artworks featuring geometric patterns) which will then be displayed in Bell Court’s currently empty shops.

Taking inspiration from the well-established and successful The Kindness Rock Project, the RSC will also ask people to share their messages of hope and kindness. Some of these will be painted on to rocks by Saadia and local volunteers and placed in a Stratford kindness garden in Bell Court. Other messages will be audio recorded and played in Bell Court as part of a soundscape on Saturday 24 April to celebrate the final day of the Art Warming project and to coincide with Shakespeare’s Birthday.

Safely managed outdoor mandala colouring activities (limited to family units or ‘bubbles’ of no more than two people) will take place between 10am-3pm on Saturdays 3,10 and 24 April, and throughout the week between Monday 12 – Saturday 17 April in Bell Court.  Members of the RSC team will also be noting down people’s messages of kindness on the same dates.

Ida Ballerini, Creative Placemaking and Public Programmes Officer at the RSC, said:

“We believe small things make a difference and creativity and kindness can inspire, help and motivate others as we emerge together from a difficult year.  We look forward to reconnecting with the people of Stratford in April as part of this Art Warming project, and I can’t wait to see the colourful mandalas and hear people’s messages of hope.  We will use these to decorate Bell Court creating a beacon of better days ahead.”

Rich Jones, Centre Manager at Bell Court, said:

“Bell Court are delighted to be hosting the RSC and this exciting project, which will bring people together after a difficult year. The concepts focus is on providing happiness and encouraging kindness, through colour and creativity. Bell Court are well placed to host this project in a socially distanced and safe environment.

We believe this will bring people together after what has been a very difficult year and the RSC and Bell Court are really keen to express this Art Warming project.

Bell Court is going to look amazing with all of the vibrant colours and designs that the mandalas will bring. This, accompanied with messages of kindness and hope can only help to lift Stratford-upon-Avon to new heights in preparation for the good times to come.”

How to take part

Saturday 3 and 10 April
10am – 3pm

On Saturday 3 and 10 April, between 10am – 3pm, the RSC Creative Placemaking team will setting up the shop in preparation for the activities.  They will also be noting down people’s messages of kindness, and giving interested passers-by rock kits and mandala templates to colour at home and return to the shop.

Monday 12 – Saturday 17 April and Saturday 24 April
10am – 3pm

The Kindness Shop is expected to open alongside non-essential retail on Monday 12 April.  Safely managed outdoor mandala colouring activities (limited to family units or ‘bubbles’ of no more than two people) will take place between 10am-3pm throughout the week Monday 12 – Saturday 17 April and on Saturday 24 April in Bell Court.  Members of the RSC team will again be noting down people’s messages of kindness on the same dates.

Saturday 24 April
Stratford Says Thank You!
10am – 3pm

Take a moment to stop and listen to stories and messages of kindness from those that have visited the shop.

Know before you go

  • Spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
  • Please follow social distancing guidelines and legal limits of group gathering.
  • Use the coronavirus NHS QR code or leave contact details (name and phone number for each household) if you do not want to use the app or do not wish to show in our venue check-in history. Details will be kept safe for 21 days.
  • Please wear a mask where possible and use sanitiser at arrival.
  • The government advice is to only travel locally where possible.

Photo credit: RSC 

Get ready for The Main Event

The stage is being set, your friends are ready and waiting. It’s time to get ready for The Main Event.

For the past year, we know you’ve been locked down at home with no real occasion to look forward to. But at long last, that’s all about to change. This spring/summer we’re inviting you to swap your sweat pants for something fancy and come and get a proper cut as we say hello once again to some of your favourite shops, eateries, salons and experiences. Whether you can’t wait for the waiter to take your order, or you’re missing the feeling of a fresh new haircut – with lockdown finally lifting, it’s time to celebrate. The occasion? Spring/summer 2021 – The Main Event.

In keeping with Government guidelines, from April 12th 2021 we will begin reopening our doors and welcoming you back safely to shop, eat and enjoy. That’s one step closer to the manicure you deserve, a glass of wine with good company, and movies on the big screen – as they’re supposed to be.

April re-openings

April 12th:

Later in the month:

May updates

Indoor dining open from May 17th:

Reopening May 17th:

July 19th changes:

  • Extended seating both outdoor and indoors at selected restaurants
  • Our outdoor play area for all returns, so that means table tennis in the sun is back!
  • Please refer to individual retailers for their guidelines around the wearing of masks and social distancing. As always, we are committed to keeping all visitors and staff as safe as possible.

Stay tuned for more updates from us as we introduce the new phases. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on social at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear the latest from our individual retailers. Let’s make this spring/summer one to remember!